Broken recording equipment didn’t force an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants to be silent



URBAN LEGEND TV: One of the first Sponge Bob SquarePants the cartoons, “Reef Blower”, had no dialogue because the recording equipment broke before the dialogue could be recorded.

The first episode of Sponge Bob SquarePants aired on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999, following the 1999 Kid’s Choice Awards, so it had a really great intro (it’s rare to think of a Nickelodeon show getting a special intro, which just goes to show how the network loved this new series). SpongeBob SquarePants is a sweet but weird sea sponge who keeps getting into misadventures with his best friend, a starfish named Patrick. The series, like many other cartoons of this genre, had multiple segments in a single episode, so a typical Sponge Bob SquarePants the episode would have two 11-minute segments. The first episode, however, was a bit more unusual than a typical episode.

The opening story in the world of SpongeBob SquarePants, “Help Wanted”, served to introduce everyone to the world of the underground city of Bikini Bottom, specifically showing how SpongeBob SquarePants was able to get his job as a fry cook. at the Krusty Krab, working for his boss, Mr. Krabs, and working alongside his neighbor. colleague and general enemy, Squidward Tentacles. Patrick, SpongeBob’s best friend, is also in this first story. However, while the episode introduced these characters to the audience, it also served to introduce Nickelodeon. In other words, this was the pilot produced to let Nickelodeon decide if they wanted to do an entire series featuring these characters. Consequently, it was produced in 1997, while the rest of the Season 1 episodes were produced in 1998 and 1999. This, however, left the first episode in a different format than most episodes, as the pilot was shorter in length. of eight minutes, leaving the show a few minutes before adding in the first regular 11-minute segment, “Tea at the Treedome”.

Enter “Reef Blowers”.

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“Reef Blower” was written by Principal Sponge Bob SquarePants creative team in season 1 of Stephen Hillenburg (creator of SpongeBob SquarePants), Derek Drymon and Tim Hill. The storyboard director was Paul Tibbitt, with Jay Lender doing the storyboard illustration. Fred Miller and Tom Yasumi were the animation directors.

The story, which ran nine seconds short of three minutes, features SpongeBob using a “reef blower” (a Bikini Bottom variant of our typical leaf blowers) to clean up his front yard, but inadvertently causing all sorts of trouble. to its neighbor, Squidward.

The episode is unusual in that there is no spoken dialogue in the short, although there is even a moment where SpongeBob says “You”, but it is only featured in caption form at the end of the episode. screen and not audible dialogue.

Anyway, as the story goes (taken from the trivia section on IMDB, not to specifically call it out but rather to note that it’s a pretty well accepted trivia, “”Reef Blower “was supposed to have dialogue, just like the other episodes. Unfortunately, the studio had poor sound equipment at the time, so they decided to make the episode without dialogue. However, Rodger Bumpass recorded the growls and gasps from Squidward.

Interesting piece of trivia, but is it really true?

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It’s not.

It’s been as long as a legend, it’s surprising how debunked it has been. The aforementioned Jay Lender responded to a fan on Twitter who asked him about the caption, “Hi, Jay. If it’s possible, would you be able to answer one of my questions about Spongebob? Over the years ago claims have been made that the episode “Reef Blower” has no dialogue because the sound equipment broke before any could be recorded. Is this true or false? Thanks in advance !” Lerner replied“FALSE! My understanding at the time was this: Reef Blowers was designed to expand Help Wanted to a full half show, but since they were separate productions, SAG rules required the actors to be paid a second round of session fees. It was about $2,500. dollars total at the time! So… SILENCE!”

As previously reported, “Reef Blower” was unusual in being less than three minutes long, intended to compensate for the fact that “Help Wanted”, the series pilot, was shorter than a typical half-episode. As Lerner notes, there was probably a budget for each half-episode, and the way SAG worked, while SpongeBob’s producers would consider “Help Wanted” and “Reef Blower” to be essentially half an episode, it doesn’t is not how the actors get paid (this is a very important rule built into the dubbing regulations, as anime shows were infamous for extracting SO much content from voice actors under the auspices of a session “unique” at the time), so to keep budgets on track, they decided not to pay voice actors for the segment. Note that Lerner is talking second-hand on this specific point, but that makes sense.

He continued to tear apart the logic of the legend, however, point out“I see this caption once in a while and it always makes me laugh, like there’s only one sound booth in all of Hollywood and the show is live or something. .”

Here, courtesy of the SpongeBob Wiki, are two original storyboards for “Reef Blower”…

Note that there is no reference to dialogue in the storyboard, which also confirms the fact that it was always designed to be dialogue-free…

And note that storyboards will usually notate dialogue, as seen in this “Tea at the Treedome” storyboard…

The legend is…


Thanks to Jay Lerner for the great information! And congratulations, SpongeBob Wiki, just a great site overall!

Be sure to check out my TV Legends Revealed archive for more urban legends from the world of TV. Click here for more anime-specific captions.

Feel free (hell, please!) to write with your suggestions for future episodes! My email address is [email protected]

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